What Happens To Your Body When You Watch Too Much TV

You likely know that feeling of sluggishness that sets in after you've binge-watched a new show for an entire weekend, or crashed on the couch for a few hours of TV time after a particularly grueling day at the office. Other than feeling a little out of sorts from sitting in a recliner or in your bed for long periods of time glued to the screen, are there any ill effects from watching too much TV? Unfortunately, your body isn't going to be too thrilled with you after getting through an entire season of your favorite show in one sitting.

Recent research has shown that watching more than four hours of TV on a daily basis could lead to a 49% increase for risk of heart attack, stroke, or early death compared to those who watch under two hours of television each day (via Harvard Health Publishing). Interestingly, these findings were determined to be specific to TV-watching, as opposed to sitting all day at a computer for work.

On the other hand, there was also good news found within the study: Researchers found that as long as participants were meeting physical activity recommendations (currently set at 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week by the American Heart Association), their risk for heart issues or early death was actually the same as the minimal TV watchers.

What else can happen from too much TV?

Because streaming services have now made it easier to watch hours upon hours of your favorite movies and TV shows, it's easier than ever to binge-watch for hours at a time. In addition, you aren't always given commercial breaks to get up and move around the house. According to Everyday Health, research has shown that nearly one-third of young adults regularly watch three hours of Netflix in a single sitting. That's a lot of time that could be spent on other activities, from work to leisure to exercise.

In fact, most health problems associated with TV binge-watching have nothing to do with the television itself. The primary issues are the lack of physical activity — sitting on the couch rather than taking a long walk — and unhealthy snacking while you watch. But there's also the social isolation element that comes into play from spending a weekend in front of the screen rather than connecting with friends or family, which can lead to negative consequences for your mental health.

In general, the occasional TV-watching binge isn't going to destroy your health. But make sure you're leaving time for other, healthier activities as well.